Forsyth reported on his early activities as a journalist. His early career was spent covering French affairs and the attempted assassination of Charles de Gaulle. He had never been to what he termed “black Africa” until reporting on the Nigerian Civil War between Biafra and Nigeria as a BBC correspondent. He was there for the first six months of 1967, but few expected the war to last very long considering the poor weaponry and preparation of the Biafrans when compared to the British-armed Nigerians. After his six months were over, however, Forsyth – eager to carry on reporting – approached the BBC to ask if he could have more time there. He noted their response:
I was told quite bluntly, then, ‘it is not our policy to cover this war.’ This was a period when the Vietnam War was front-page headlines almost every day, regarded broadly as an American cock-up, and this particularly British cock-up in Nigeria was not going to be covered. I smelt news management. I don’t like news management. So I made a private vow to myself: ‘you may, gentlemen, not be covering it, but I’m going to cover it.’ So I quit and flew out there, and stayed there for most of the next two years.
He thus returned to Biafra as a freelance reporter, writing his first book, The Biafra Story, in 1969.
In August 2015 Forsyth revealed that in Biafra he began work as a spy for MI6, a relationship that continued for 20 years. He claimed he wasn’t paid.
He is an occasional radio broadcaster on political issues, and has also written for newspapers throughout his career, including a weekly page in the Daily Express. In 2003, he criticised “gay-bashers in the churches” in The Guardian newspaper. He has narrated several documentaries, including Jesus Christ Airlines, Soldiers, a history of men in battle and I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life & Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal.
|The Biafra Story||1969||Non-fiction. 1977 edition titled: “The Biafra Story: The Making of an African Legend”.|
|The Day of the Jackal||1971||Adapted into the 1973 film of the same name.|
|The Odessa File||1972||Adapted into the 1974 film of the same name.|
|The Dogs of War||1974||Adapted into the 1980 film of the same name.|
|The Shepherd||1975||Illustrated short story. Chris Foss illustrated the UK edition. American edition published in 1976: Lou Feck illustrated this edition.|
|The Devil’s Alternative||1979||American edition published in 1980.|
|Emeka||1982||Biography of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Revised in 1991.|
|No Comebacks||1982||Collection consisting of ten short stories.|
|The Fourth Protocol||1984||Adapted into the 1987 film of the same name.|
|Great Flying Stories||1991||Compiled, edited and introduced by Forsyth. Also features his 1975 story “The Shepherd”.|
|The Fist of God||1994|
|The Phantom of Manhattan||1999||Partly adapted into the 2010 romantic musical Love Never Dies.|
|The Veteran||2001||Collection consisting of five short stories: “The Veteran”, “The Art of the Matter”, “The Miracle”, “The Citizen”, and “Whispering Wind”.|
|The Kill List||2013|
|The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue||2015||Autobiography. Published in September 2015.|
As writer only (except for Soldiers, as presenter)
|1973||The Day of the Jackal||Adapted from The Day of the Jackal|
|1974||The Odessa File||Adapted from The Odessa File|
|1980||The Dogs of War||Adapted from The Dogs of War|
|1987||The Fourth Protocol||Adapted from The Fourth Protocol|
|1997||The Jackal||Based on the 1973 film|